Renowned for being home to one of mankind’s most innovative feats of engineering, and offering a wealth of attractions on both sides of its internationally acclaimed canal, Panama is one of the sailing world’s most underrated destinations. How this small yet fascinating country managed to avoid tourism superstardom, all these decades, remains a mystery. Yet all those who are curious enough to have sailed on Panama yacht charters agree: it’s been for the best. Endearing and unique, authentic and diverse, Panama hides an incredible array of appealing cultural, historical and natural attractions that go way beyond the Panama Canal. Most of them are blissfully uncrowded, delightfully non-touristy and a splendor to discover aboard a luxury Panama yacht charter.
Panama’s split-personality makes it an exceptional yacht charter destination; from modern, cosmopolitan and exciting on the Pacific to laid-back, exotic and dreamy on the Caribbean, this is by far one of the most varied places you could visit aboard a luxury Panama yacht charter. Revered marine national parks, brimming with amazing SCUBA diving and snorkeling sites, ancient tribes still living as if time has never passed, idyllic tropical islands, deserted beaches and outstanding jungles, all framing the most titillating capital city in all of Central America. A Panama yacht charter is a wonderful multi-faceted experience.
© Panama Tourism
Hard to imagine that this sophisticated capital is the springboard for tropical Caribbean escapades. With its flurry of skyscrapers, first-class restaurants and designer boutiques, Panama City offers plenty of bling and all the luxurious indulgences you could ever need. As if transported to another era aboard your yacht charter in Panama, the charming cobblestone historic center - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - is awash with delightful little cafes and souvenir shops, and a collection of splendid colonial-era buildings. Include a few days’ stay here either before or after your Panama yacht charter to explore the city at length.
Avid sailors on Panama yacht charters will no doubt be attracted by the allure of crossing the Panama Canal, a man-made connection between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans which was carved out in 1914, and which single-handedly revolutionized international cargo transport. Before it was built, ships had to make an 8,000-mile detour to sail from the Caribbean to the Pacific. A century later, the Panama Canal is still a sight to behold and is still the most pivotal connecting link in our world, welcoming over 14,000 ships, from more than 160 countries.
It can take several hours to navigate through the 48-mile long canal, over a system of locks that raises and lowers water levels an impressive 85 feet. Crossing in daylight is a must for Panama yacht charter guests, lest you miss this incredible experience. Anchoring overnight in one of the man-made lakes, and including some on-shore excursions, is a definite highlight of your luxury yacht charter in Panama. If you’re interested in learning more about the canal’s construction, we highly recommend visiting the Panama Interoceanic Canal Museum in Panama City before starting your Panama yacht charter trip. The history of the canal is immensely interesting and gaining some insight, before taking on a crossing, will certainly enhance your experience.
Anchored to Panama’s north-western coastline, right by the border with Costa Rica, the Bocas del Toro province is one of the major highlights on the Caribbean side of the Panama Canal. Comprising several islands and two national parks, one of which is a colossal UNESCO-listed marine bio-reserve, Bocas del Toro is a gorgeous place to discover by yacht charter in Panama. Home to an intriguing mix of natives, immigrant Latinos and plenty of relaxed expats (who probably visited on a yacht charter and never left) Bocas is as alluring for its fantastic diving, snorkelling, horse-riding, jungle hiking, surfing, kayaking and swimming, as for its incredibly peaceful vibe. It’s hard to believe, when enjoying a sundowner in one of Boca Town’s clapboard house-turned-beach-bars, that bustling and über-modern Panama City is just a canal-ride away.
© Ted McGrath
San Blas Islands
For that epitome Caribbean experience when visiting Panama, you simply can’t sail past the San Blas Islands. Impossibly perfect, mostly uninhabited and picturesque to a fault, the San Blas lie just east of the Panama Canal and are the premier yachting destination on this side of the locks. With 365 islands to choose from (one a day for a year a coincidence? We think not!) San Blas is the kind of place you head to, on your Panama yacht charter, when you want to eat your own weight in freshly-caught lobster, meet friendly yet fiercely independent Kuna Indians, splurge on their stunning beadwork, beautiful textiles and lovely wooden carvings, and enjoy a few days of R&R in a sublime tropical paradise. Aboard your yacht charter in Panama, visit historic Kuna sites, take a ride in an authentic dugout canoe, spend hours counting the infinite colors of the coral reefs; swim with Manta Rays and pay a visit to villages whose inhabitants have not changed their way of life for centuries. Spellbinding and rewarding, the San Blas are worthy of a yacht charter of their own accord.
Las Perlas Islands
The Pacific Ocean side of Panama may be the more ‘modern’ side of the country, but it also hides a very wild and unspoiled treasure. The Las Perlas Islands are, as their name suggests, real pearls. An archipelago lying about 100 miles off the coast of Panama City, Las Perlas is a cluster of striking volcanic isles brimming with sealife, wildlife and some of the world’s most coveted pearls. Yes…the name is no coincidence! Aboard your yacht charter in Panama, cormorants, frigates and pelicans fly above you, while moray eels, reef sharks and damselfish swim below you. Snorkel and kayak to your heart’s content, and explore the dense and luscious jungles for days on end. As the setting for the reality TV-show ‘Survivor’, Las Perlas are as infamous for their wilderness as they are for their inherent beauty. Skip the sensationalist drama of the show and visit on your Panama yacht charter instead! Wilderness is best savored with a side serve of comfortable luxury.
Cast off on a Panama yacht charter and come discover an unrivalled destination that offers the very best of North, Central and South America.